June 11, 2018
Not all preservationists are environmentalists and not all environmentalists are preservationists – but today’s guest is, in fact, both. Kristen Harbeson is the Political Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters – the political voice of the environment. She’s a tireless advocate for healthy communities and has made a career in standing up for issues that matter – and while she’s currently fighting for a healthier earth, she’s also been a passionate voice for preservation. Kristen will explain how and why the environmental and preservation communities can play better together and how that might just save the world on this week’s PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] Not all preservationists are environmentalists and not all environmentalists are preservationists but today’s guest is, in fact, both. Kristen Harbeson is the Political Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the political voice of the environment. She’s a tireless advocate for healthy communities, has made a career in standing up for issues that matter. And while she’s currently fighting for a healthier earth, she’s also been a passionate voice for preservation. Kristen will explain how and why the environmental and preservation communities can play better together and how that might just save the world on this week’s PreserveCast.
From Preservation Maryland Studios in the historic podcast district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast!
[Nick Redding] Kristen Harbeson is the Political Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, a position she’s held since she joined the organization in 2015. Prior to working for the League, she served for five years as senior staff for the Maryland House of Delegates’ Appropriations Chair Maggie McIntosh. During her tenure with the legislature, she worked with the Environmental Matters Committee through the passage of landmark, stormwater, and septics legislation as well as issues involving fracking, pesticides, and other land-use concerns. She earned her undergraduate degree from Hampshire College and graduated with a Master’s in History and Museum Studies from the University of Delaware, which led to her move to Baltimore to work at the USS Constellation. Her passion for policy, however, led to a shift in advocacy work, first, at Preservation Maryland and then, at the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. In these roles, she built coalitions and advocated for sustainable building practices and conservation as well as for full funding of the Historic Preservation Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. During her free time, Kristen dedicates to other great passions, Baltimore, traveling, dancing, history, and spreadsheets [guest laughing]. Kristen, it’s a pleasure to have you with us here today.
[Kristen Harbeson] Well, thanks for having me, Nick.
[NR] So it was a lengthy and interesting intro. I think you were one of the people who truly – we talk about how preservation and the environment can play well together, but you are truly the living manifestation of that. What led you to this kind of work? What got you involved in history, the environment, all that kind of stuff?
[KH] Well, first of all, I’ve never actually understood that I was moving… [When] I changed jobs, I’ve never understood that I was changing fields or moving into completely different realms with new people because every time I’ve made a move from one job to another, I’ve always thought it was a natural extension of the other. And so from history to historic preservation made sense, from historic preservation to environmental conservation made sense. You can’t have one without the other and so I just feel like I’m working towards… In everything I’ve done, I’ve tried to work towards the greater good of better communities.
[NR] Yeah. And where did you grow up?
[KH] Oh, my goodness. I grew up all over the place. I was born abroad and I’ve lived in Wisconsin, in New York primarily, a little bit of time in Virginia, went to college in Massachusetts, grad school in Delaware. I lived in France a couple years.
[NR] You’ve been everywhere!
[KH] I kind of have. I’ve got six states, nine cities, and three continents, which just means I’m itinerant.
[NR] And you’re currently a Baltimore resident.
[KH] Absolutely. I am with the fervor of a convert. I love Baltimore City. I’ve lived here for longer than I’ve lived any place else. I’ve lived here since 2000, so it’s been eighteen years.
[NR] And so as I mentioned, obviously, you’ve been all over the place. You’ve got degrees that really kind of focused on the history side. And then as I mentioned in the bio you started working for the USS Constellation. Just for people who are listening, who aren’t from the area, what is it?
[KH] It’s an 1854 sloop-of-war. It’s one of the last remaining floating [war]ship from the Civil War. It’s floating in Baltimore Harbor, and I was the Education Director there so I spent a lot of time talking to fourth graders about the disgusting habits of nineteenth-century Americans living on ships.
[NR] And did you enjoy that?
[KH] I had a great time!
[NR] So then you obviously move into more advocacy side work, and [in] interest of full disclosure, former employee of Preservation Maryland.
[KH] From Constellation, I came to Preservation Maryland, in part because I’d gotten involved in the Small Museum Association and working on their conference. So I decided I really like enjoyed the service provider aspect of things and working with many organizations to try to find the resources that they need, and so that was what I did with Preservation Maryland.
[NR] And then you move onto the National Council of State Historic Preservation Officers.
[NR] Which tell us a little bit about what NCSHPO did or what they do, I should say –
[KH] What they do.
[NR] – because they still exist.
[KH] Yeah, they are the organization that reminds the federal government that they are absolutely obligated to fund historic preservation offices in every state and territory in the United States. And so it’s a small organization, but we work to just be… We were the link between the state agencies and the federal government when it came to the stage state historic preservation offices, groups like the Maryland Historical Trust in Maryland. They have counterparts in every state and territory.
[NR] So you’re doing a lot of federal while being on that, then?
[KH] Yes. And again, in that case I was working somewhat with the federal legislators, but I was also doing a lot of work with the service providers and really providing resources for state agencies.
[NR] And so, then you make the jump to working in a state legislature.
[NR] And how did that work out? What’s it like working in the Maryland General Assembly? What should people know, if they’re not from Maryland? Or even if they are and they’re just not familiar with how it works. What should we know? What’s the big take aways about working in the Maryland General Assembly?
[KH] It is incredibly fun if you like policy. When I left NCSHPO, and I went to work for Chairman McIntosh, people said, “Why are you leaving preservation and why are you going to work in politics?” I’m like, “That’s not actually the right question. The question is why did it take so long?” Because I grew up around politics and I’ve always sort of had an advocacy bend. So I am a policy nerd, and when you say that I dedicate myself to spreadsheets, that is how I party on a Friday night. It is something I find really fun and interesting to look at statistics, and looking at people’s voting records, and seeing how the people work. So if you are like me and you are a deep dive, in the weeds policy nerd, working at the Maryland General Assembly, either inside as a legislative aide or where I am now on the lobbying side, is the most fun a girl can have.
[NR] And it’s a 90-day session so it’s also really brief, really compact, pretty
[NR] – focused?
[KH] The amount of –
[NR] It’s like drinking from a fire hose.
[KH] Exactly. The amount of good that you can do in a single day in the Maryland General Assembly is stunning. There’s a lot of energy. People are really busy. They are focused on – everything is condensed. It’s an entire year’s worth of work condensed into 90 days with its own ebbs and flows. It’s a real community of people who – because we’re all the people who like that kind of work – everybody there, from the legislators, the legislative aides, the lobbyists, everybody’s there for work towards something important whether… No matter what we’re working on, we’re working on something we care about. The legislators I find are all extremely dedicated, really committed to doing good work. They give out a lot to be there. Because it is a 90-day session, it’s technically a part-time job. But they’re living away from their families during that 90 days, from their children. They’re taking time away from their jobs. So it’s quite a sacrifice for them to be there and they wouldn’t do it as they weren’t committed.
[NR] Yeah, and so you spent five years there really getting the lay of the land, working for arguably one of the best in the General Assembly. And then you’ve made the jump now – and you’ve been there for a few years as well – but to the Maryland League Conservation Voters. So why don’t you tell us what is the Maryland League Conservation of Voters? How long have they existed? What exactly do they do?
[KH] Well, Maryland League Conservation of Voters has been around for almost forty years. As said in the bio, we’re the political voice for the environment. That’s our tagline. One of our signatures is a legislative scorecard. We ask legislators to pass good and strong environment legislation and then we judge them on it. We created a scorecard and let the voters know how their legislators are voting on their issues, on our issues.
[NR] So for preservationists who are interested in that concept – just to kind of dig a little deeper here for someone listening within our organization – does your 501(c)(3) do that or does your 501(c)(4) do that? And what’s the difference?
[KH] That 501(c)(4) does our scorecard.
[NR] And what is a (c)(4) versus a (c)(3) for people who are listening who might not know?
[KH] A 501(c)(3) is most non-profits. Most non-profits are educational organizations and they can get – you can get involved in advocacy as Preservation Maryland does as a 501(c)(3). You can get involved in specific legislation but working in elections and the accountability factor as we do it is out of our (c)(4), which is a political non-profit. It is not tax deductible. Donations to the (c)(4) are not tax deductible but it is still is a non-profit. So it’s through our (c)(4) that we can do work in elections.
[NR] And so that’s what creates the scorecard and that’s what allows you to endorse some of things that the preservation community hasn’t quite wrapped its hands around yet?
[KH] No, and it is something that I think is really valuable. And it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed being part of that and having the full spectrum of being able to work in elections this year. Is super fun and also the educational non-profit. We also do a lot of work through our (c)(3) in just issue education.
[KH] We just today released our issue guide, talking about the big environmental issues that are facing us the next several years looking towards next legislative term. Among that is we did include information about the historic preservation tax credit and the land use issues and things that you and I have worked well together on.
[NR] And God bless you for it [laughing]. So you’ve talked a little bit about issues and that might be good segue to this. Tell us like last session – and I know last session was a tough session.
[KH] It was a hard year.
[NR] They’re not all perfect. Give people a sense for – you kind of talked in generalities – the political voice for the environmental policy. What kind of things were you trying to pass last year?
[KH] So the environmental community works very strongly in coalition. And there are probably twenty-five organizations that work in statewide policy in environmental policy in Annapolis. We are one of the bigger players in that field as I think most of our partners would probably agree, but there were four major issues this year that we were working on as a community, as an environmental community: expansion of renewable energy, fixing the Forest Conservation Act, which has not been updated since 1991 –
[NR] And tell people, what does that mean in Maryland?
[KH] So the Forest Conservation Act was a bill –
[NR] The elevator version.
[KH] The elevator version!
[NR] Because I know you can talk for hours about FCA.
[KH] Yes. It was designed to protect forests and prevent the remarkable deforestation of the state. As it’s written now, the short version is that for every acre of land you clear, of forest land you clear, you have to replace one quarter-acre. We also have, since 2013, what’s called a no net loss policy. It’s an aspirational goal of no net loss. We don’t want to lose any more forest land than we have currently. So a quarter-acre replacement for an acre cleared, that’s not good math.
[KH] And so what we were trying to do this year was not just to say – we’re not saying you can’t clear forests. You just have to replace them, priority forests, the best of the best, where the strongest ecosystems are. When you’re developing in those priority forest areas, you need to replace one-for-one and maintain it. And there’s a lot more complication to it but –
[NR] And who could possibly be opposed to that, Kristen?
[KH] – that’s a big part of it. Well, there are developers and there are all kinds of people for whom it is inconvenient and it makes it more expensive. It’s not just inconvenient. It makes it more expensive. It makes it more difficult. They have to go through different permit dating. I understand why people opposed it, but I also think it’s important.
[NR] So renewable energy, Forest Conservation Act. What else were you guys working on?
[KH] We worked on a statewide ban of styrofoam. Currently, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and now Baltimore City exist under styrofoam bans for food service takeaway containers like cups and plates, clamshells. But we want to have it statewide so that everything’s consistent. And then the last one had to do with transparency of the Public Service Commission, which is really pretty wonky, but it’s a five-member board that approves major energy development projects in natural gas, in solar siting, in solar energy projects and –
[NR] And this was to try and get people –
[KH] It was to try to make it easier for people to get engaged in the process earlier.
[KH] Then there was another part of it that required an elevation of health impact assessments to make sure that they were taking into account what these projects would mean for the health of the communities.
[NR] And for those listening, how did this session turn out?
[KH] Not great on those issues [laughter]. Well –
[NR] But you stopped bad things, too, right?
[KH] We stopped bad things from… Yeah. No. We did have some –
[NR] Not all proactive.
[KH] Those were the priority issues and all of them will be back next year because none of them passed this year. We did get, however, the full funding of Metro, which was huge.
[KH] That was a very big deal. We –
[NR] And a full funding a program up in space?
[KH] And full funding a program up in space. We –
[NR] These are good things.
[KH] Yeah. They’re very good things. We also helped to stop a bad bill that would have prevented offshore wind farms, which are an organizational priority and really a priority of the state. They have been a priority of the state and should continue to be. And we worked to prevent offshore drilling. So it wasn’t a great year, but there were some good victories.
[NR] And, as in baseball, there’s always next year.
[KH] There’s always next year, which is one of the reasons I like working in elections because we’re getting to take all this and we’re getting to take up all these issues and then talk to all the candidates who are looking to get elected and work to try to get bright, new leadership into the General Assembly so we can get some of these things done.
[NR] Well, why don’t we take a quick break right here? And when we come back, we’ll talk a little bit about some of the differences and some of the similarities in terms of advocating for preservation with the environmental movement and, perhaps, how these two movements can play together a little bit better. And we’ll do that right here on PreserveCast.
And now it’s time for a Preservation Explanation
[Rich Grouser] Now, we bring you a brief update from Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding on the recent catastrophic flooding in Ellicott City, Maryland and the role of the preservation community moving forward.
[Nick Redding] When I last visited Ellicott City, I found a community full of hope and potential. Just two years shy of the devastating 2016 flood, Main Street bustled with activity and new life. Just a few short days after that visit, that new reality was shattered by a ferocious wall of water.
In the span of less than 24 months, Ellicott City has endured two thousand-year floods. In 2016, the preservation community rallied around that community to rebuild, and in the process spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours working to put the pieces back together. By early 2018, nearly 96 percent of the historic downtown storefronts were back in business, a stunning testament to the success of the recovery effort. Now the people of Ellicott City are confronted once more with the unenviable task of rebuilding.
The unfortunate reality is that simply putting Ellicott City’s buildings back together will not make the community stronger. As satisfying as it may be to see a new coat of paint or repointed brick walls, we must be careful never to confuse recovery with resilience. The flooding of Ellicott City is a vivid and undeniable reminder that the preservation of historic places is inextricably linked to far broader and more complex issues than preservation community has traditionally focused its attention. We must now recognize that we cannot save historic Ellicott City if we’re not part of the conversation about watershed over development and encouraging smart growth. We cannot save historical Ellicott City if we’re not part of the conversation about stormwater mitigation and advocating for increased funding necessary to make it happen. We cannot save historic Ellicott City or any other historic place at the water’s edge if we’re not engaged in the broader effort to instill a sense of urgency for climate resiliency and action.
These are not the conversations that the preservation community is accustomed to having, but if we’re serious about saving places like Ellicott City, these are the conversations we just have. We can no longer sit on the sidelines of these debates because smart growth is preservation and preservation is smart growth. We must think beyond the historic district because water and the forces of nature do not abide by arbitrary lines. If the recent flood in Ellicott City has taught us anything, it is that we must embrace a broader agenda and think beyond recovery alone. The future of our history depends on it.
PreserveCast isn’t just for Mondays anymore. Find all of our episodes at PreserveCast.org anytime. And we’re on social media to continue the conversation @PreserveCast. If you have a question or want to suggest a topic, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[NR] This is Nick Redding. You’re listening to PreserveCast. We’re joined today in-studio by Kristen Harbeson who is the political director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the political voice of the environment. And we’ve been talking about all things policy, and what the league does, and a little bit about Kristen’s background, and all the experiences that she had that led her to this current line of work. And so point blank, which is harder, advocating for the environment or for preservation?
[KH] [laughter] They both have their challenges. As much as they are similar in terms, we’re all looking for the same thing. We’re all working towards development and making sure that development is where we want it and not where we don’t. We’re putting people back into older communities, protecting the cherished landscapes that make our state as wonderful as it is. You and I are not usually in the same committees.
[KH] So it’s different.
[NR] It is different. Now, but see, it’s interesting because I think a lot of preservationists, not just here in Maryland but around the country, would say, “Oh the environmentalists have it so easy because everybody cares about the earth. Everybody cares about the environment.” And I think, to some extent, the preservation committee has tried to co-op – maybe not just co-op – but sort of make the case that what we’re doing is environmentalism.
[NR] Would you agree that the much-maligned preservationist out there feeling this is right or will you give them solace and say it’s just as hard being an environmentalist?
[KH] It is not easy fighting for the environment. Even though everybody loves trees, everybody loves the environment, everybody wants clean air and clean water, how we get there and how we prioritize funding and regulations… It’s hard. I would say that one of the things that the environmental community does have is, we have a lot of players. There are a lot of different groups that are working on our issues, which means that our coalitions can be large and sometimes ungainly. But it also means we have a lot of power. When we can pull ourselves –
[NR] That’s a very sophisticated way of describing it.
[KH] When we’re all pulling together, we can get amazing things done, which is what happened with the fracking ban. That was enormous victory, which for those listening at home who may not have been following as closely as I was. We were the first state in the country to pass a ban on hydraulic fracking in a state that actually has gas deposits and to enact it. This was huge. We were precedent setting, and the other states are trying to follow what we were able to do. The year before that, we passed the Pollinator Protection Act bill, which was again everybody pulling together to pass first to the nation legislation.
[NR] Which is tough in Maryland. We don’t always lead.
[KH] It is harder if –
[NR] We like to make sure if somebody else is doing it first.
[KH] It’s harder to be first because you don’t… There are all the people who want to say, “But if this happens, what would be the effect?”
[NR] Right. So for preservationists who are thinking of trying to engage the environmental community, and I’d like to think that Preservation Maryland has at least tried and maybe in some cases done a good job of this, somehow we got you to come into the PreserveCast [Studio]. We’re doing something right. Any takeaways? I mean, obviously, here in Maryland I think there’s some good interplay. But across the country, if preservationists are thinking of, “You know what? I should engage the environmental community.” What kind of issues resonate? What is a good way? Are there some things that you can of that might be useful for people to think about as they attempt to do that?
[KH] Well, I think that one of the places that we have natural synergy are things like our stormwater management and land use issues, of making sure our cities work right. That we’re making sure that when we are developing, we are developing well and smartly and making sure that the resources, both human and natural, are being tended to. We just saw for the second time in two years, horrific flooding in historic Ellicott City with an entire historic downtown just decimated for the second time in two years. That is obviously a tragedy on a human level. It’s a tragedy of an economic level. It’s tragedy for historic preservation because Ellicott City is an extraordinary historic resource. But it’s also not a natural disaster. It was, in large part, caused because of poor development uphill and stormwater management.
[NR] Development that has not paid for its impact.
[KH] It has not paid for its impact. That they are not controlling the fact that when there’s flood waters that the water will go somewhere. It was worse this year because it’s been such a wet spring. But it’s where we were able to work together on some level on the Forest Conservation Act. Because the Forest Conservation Act not only does it improve quality of life and that is where historic preservationists often live, but it’s also is the best stormwater management you can get. Had there been more trees to absorb the groundwater, who knows whether we would have been able to mitigate against the terrific flooding that we saw the other day?
[NR] Yeah. And I think it’s a startling opportunity for the preservation community to begin to embrace. And we’ve been talking about this here, sort of this broader agenda in the sense that we can’t just kind of close our eyes at the end of the National Register boundary and say, “Anything beyond that we don’t have to worry about.” Because Ellicott City, the water doesn’t care and what happens beyond our so-called historic districts is impacting these historic places. So it’s a huge challenge. It’s just not here in Maryland.
That’s the other thing. I mean, we’ve been interviewed about it. They ask the question, “Should Ellicott City rebuild? Why should the state spend so much money in Ellicott City?” And our point on this is, “Well, look. This is coming to a community near you. It might just be at Ellicott City right now, but it’s certainly not the only place that vulnerable here on the state of Maryland or certainly in the country.” It’s certainly not the only historic place and there could be non-historic communities that caught up in this. I think it’s sort of a touchstone here and it’s an interesting place for the environmental, smart growth, preservation community to all kind of get on the same page and say, “Look, we got a problem. We all come at this from different perspectives, but we got to fix this.”
[KH] Absolutely. I mean, so you talked about smart growth. I mean, that’s basically what we’re both working on. We’re both working on, whether it’s smart growth capital as capital G or smart development, appropriate development, sustainable development. The greenest building is the one that’s already built.
[NR] Music to our ears, Kristen [guest laughing]. Music to our ears. So with that said, here’s a question and maybe I’m wrong, but why don’t more environmentalists consider themselves preservationists? Because it seems to me that perhaps more preservationists consider themselves environmentalists than the other way around. That the preservation community has embraced environmentalism, but the environmental community isn’t – is it just that well, that’s sort of a tertiary issue or…? Because to me, if it’s the greenest building already standing, if the smartest growth is revitalizing and regrowing where it already is, it seems like the environmental community has done a fantastic job of turning preservationists into environmentalists. Can we do the same with the environmental community?
[KH] I think so. I think that a lot of people don’t understand what historic preservation is and does and why it’s –
[NR] Yeah. Or today.
[KH] And why it’s important. I think most environmentalists if you said, “Do you support having people living in existing communities?” They would probably say, “Yes.”
“Would you want to prevent sprawl?”
“Absolutely.” It’s a matter of priorities I think in terms of not understanding what the preservation community is looking for –
[NR] Yeah, and that’s on the preservation community.
[KH] – and what’s important. Environmentalists don’t know about Section 106 nearly as much as they should and it being a tool for us to be working together to address and mitigate and make projects better. There is, I think, resistance in a lot of the environmental community that’s focused on renewable energy, thinking maybe that historic preservation… “Well, you can’t do that in historic districts. You can’t have solar panels in historic districts. You can’t put in…” They don’t understand what preservationists understand –
[NR] Or they see us as a –
[KH] Or they think that preservationists are obstructions.
[NR] An obstacle. Yeah
[KH] They don’t understand what preservationists understand, that the greenest building is the one that’s already built and that there is value and environmental value to older structures.
[NR] So what’s next for you and the League? So we understand that you’re going to be coming back at some of those same issues.
[KH] With all those same issues.
[NR] Any new issues on the horizon? I know you guys are always working on a lot of different things.
[KH] Oh, heavens. Well, I don’t know. I mean, there are always a lot of issues that are perking under the surface. The four issues that I mentioned will be coming back in some form next year. We’re really involved and I think this is a place where we’ll be working together on, issues of renewable energy. One of the things that we need to address is where does renewable energy live?
How do we…? Maryland is a small state. Everybody wants to get to 100 percent clean energy among the people that you and I are going to be talking to. As an aspirational goal, that’s where we all want to get to. And we’re wanting to work very hard to set the steps to get to that point. But we need to look at, “How do we do that while keeping agricultural land and agricultural use? How do we do that while protecting our historic landscapes? How do we that while not destroying forests? How do we do that? How do we make it easier and more affordable for solar to develop where we want it, which is on closed landfills, which is on gray fields, and brownfields, and rooftops?”
[NR] Yeah, ad community solar.
[KH] And community solar and –
[NR] Not just large-scale industrial. Yeah.
[KH] Right. Sure. But even community solar, those are projects that take up a certain amount of land.
[KH] So where that land is and how that land is selected and developed is, I think, something that we’re going to need to get really serious about in the next term –
[NR] Particularly if we get to 100 percent because that’s
[KH] – so that we can get to 100 percent.
[NR] – because you’re talking about real numbers, then, and big impacts, which is good. But we want to make sure we don’t, as you say, “It doesn’t go in the wrong places.” And that’s not just a Maryland issue.
[KH] No. This is something that is being looked at all over the country and all over the world.
[NR] Yeah. So if preservationists around the country are listening to this, and we know that our listenership is broad…
[KH] Listenership is broad, and many of you, also, are probably in states with renewable portfolio standards.
[NR] Yeah. So it’s time to start thinking about that. It’s long after time. But as these standards grow, it’s even more imperative for everybody to start looking at that. And then you’ve got the election, so you’ve got your work cut out for you.
[KH] I am busy.
[NR] That’s good. Job security [laughter]. So –
[KH] Keeps me out of trouble.
[NR] Before we let you go – and this has been fantastic and I always enjoy talking with you in thinking about all the ways we can work together – but we ask this of every person who comes in here. It’s the most different question: the favorite historic building or place?
[KH] Lonaconing Silk Mill.
[NR] Bam. That was quick!
[NR] Most people hem and haw.
[KH] I mean, there are a lot of places that I go to…
[NR] Tell us what it is. People don’t know.
[KH] So the Lonaconing Silk Mill is something that I got to visit, low these many years ago, when I worked in the hallowed halls of Preservation Maryland. It is a silk mill that is out in tiny, little town in Western Maryland. A tiny town… It was built in the early 1900s during the peak of the silk industry and it operated until the 1940s when a couple things happened. One of which was a decline in the silk industry with the rise of the nylon trade and also labor disputes. And this is important that this is the history about why it was. Because in the ’50s the labor disputes, and the lack of business in the silk industry, meant that the Lonaconing Silk Mill closed; and it closed its doors with everything intact inside.
[NR] And it’s still there today.
[KH] It is still there today. When I was there, now ten years ago on a cold January day, walking inside, you could have turned those machines on. There were shoes on the machines that had been left by the workers. There was a calendar on the wall from the month after it closed because the month that it had closed, that sheet had fallen down. There were artifacts in the cubbyholes left by the workers who just- the doors closed and nobody went back in. Fifty years! It is an absolute time capsule in a way that I’ve never seen before or since.
[NR] That was a fantastic answer. Great place. And I just recently, this week, saw an article about it about how they’re trying to form a nonprofit there now –
[KH] Oh, bless their heart. That’s –
[NR] – to spur some redevelopment. It is –
[KH] I hope they’re able to do it because it is extraordinary.
[NR] It is. It’s –
[KH] It’s an amazing old building.
[NR] The challenge is it’s in the middle of nowhere.
[KH] Well, yes.
[NR] If someone wants a historic building in the middle of nowhere, get in touch with us. We can help you.
[KH] Yeah. There are a lot of – there are a lot of challenges to it. Part of it is its location, but it’s close to both Cumberland and Prosper, which are sizable cities. But it’s not close enough that it’s been able to get any of the benefits from either of those.
[NR] Maybe new headquarters for the League. If you guys are interested, let me know [guest laughing]. We can set you up. Well –
[KH] Field office.
[NR] Kristen, this has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you not only for joining us today but for all the good work that you’re doing because as much as we give the environmental community a hard time now and then, I appreciate the ability to drink water without thinking that’s it’s going to be poisoned and I like to think that you had something to do with that so…
[KH] Well, I appreciate that. And I look forward to always working with you.
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This podcast was developed under a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a unit of the National Park Service, and in partnership with the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preservation Maryland and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the National Park Service or the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
Our website is made possible by the Historic Preservation Education Foundation. This week’s episode was produced and engineered by me, Stephen Israel. Our executive producer is Aaron Marcavitch. Our theme music is performed by the band, Pretty Gritty. And most importantly, thank you for listening and preserving!